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Daily News - 29 March 1999

27 de Febrero Boulevard opened
The RD$68 million 27 de Febrero Boulevard or the Paseo de las Artes was formally inaugurated yesterday in an event presided over by President Leonel Fernández, Santo Domingo Mayor Johnny Ventura and Minister of Public Works Diandino Peña. Peña said that the city now has its own open air museum of Dominican works of art. The government contracted several of the nation's leading sculptors, including José Ramón Rotellini, Said Musa, Soucy de Pellerano and Joaquín Ciprián, to create original works of art that are part of the promenade. In the past, the government imported statues of foreigners for city plazas. The almost one kilometer boulevard atop the tunnel between Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill avenues is part of urban renewal works along the 27 de Febrero Avenue that have cost the country upwards of RD$608 million. The avenue project also includes tunnels under the Maximo Gomez and Tiradentes intersections with 27 de Febrero Avenue. The 27 de Febrero crosses Santo Domingo East to West.

East Week preventive measures
This long weekend is the peak holiday season for Dominicans and several institutions are joining forces to prevent accidents and tragic happenings. For instance, the Ministry of Public Works has banned the transit of heavy trucks on highways as of Wednesday, 31 March through Sunday 4 April. The Ministry of Tourism has closed several beaches and recreational areas that can be dangerous when large numbers of visitors congregate, and has banned the use of jet skis and wave runners as well as motorized boats on the most visited beaches.
The National Police warns that anyone caught drinking and driving or driving under the influence of alcohol will be arrested on the spot and will spend the rest of their vacation in jail. Likewise, the Police has assigned 90% of the police force to vigilance and accident prevention efforts of the Easter long weekend.
The Civil Defense has announced 3,735 volunteers are stationed at 307 assistance booths at city exits, along highways and in beaches and recreational areas that are popular with domestic travelers.
Also collaborating in the Easter Week effort are the firemen of Santo Domingo, the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Public Health, the Dominican Red Cross, the city governments, the Metropolitan Transport Authority, and the Armed Forces, Air Force and Navy.
The exodus from cities to recreational begins late afternoon on Wednesday, 31 March. The return to the cities takes place Sunday afternoon, 4 April.
During Easter, all churches, national parks, stores in recreational areas, hotels, pharmacies, hospitals remain open. In Santo Domingo, several restaurants will remain open, but a call should be made to ascertain this, especially on Good Friday. Diamond, Palacio and Manzana (Plaza Central) movie theaters have said they will remain open all through the holiday.
In Puerto Plata, only buses bringing tourists that will be staying at Playa Dorada hotels will be able to enter the hotel complex. Likewise, camping has been banned on Playa Dorada.
The Ministry of Tourism has closed the following beaches for the duration of the Easter weekend:
Poza del Castillo, La Hilera, El Canal, La Bombita, El Puello, Los Golondrinos (Puerto Plata); Los Cuadritos, Punta de los Cañones (San Cristobal); El Caney (Azua), Caribe, Del Muerto, Hawaii, Marota, Villa del Mar, Carey (San Pedro de Macoris); Manresa, Centro Vacacional (Haina) and Guibia (Santo Domingo); Palito Seco, Los Patos, Saladilla, Del Caño (Barahona); Boca de Chavón, Tres Colitas, La Caleta, (La Romana).

Too much money for salaries and Santo Domingo public works
The political secretary of the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano, engineer Federico Antún Batlle criticized that most of the government funds are dedicated to current expenses (salaries), leaving little for public works. He said that the government only invested 13% of the total budget in public works and most of these were projects in the capital city. The bulk of the capital investment went for the construction of the 27 de Febrero Avenue works, the overpasses to the Las Americas International Airport, and the John F. Kennedy and Winston Churchill Avenues. Recently politicians have criticized the concentration of public works in the city of Santo Domingo. Even PLD politicians have criticized the policy of the Fernandez administration indicating that the lack of completion of already initiated public works in the provinces places that party at a disadvantage to winning the 2000 presidential elections. The PRSC was an ally of the PLD in the 1996 presidential elections.

Shot for refusing to pay the "toll"
Daily newspapers carried over the weekend the story of the death of a traveler and injuries of eight others on an illegal boat trip from Nagua on the Northeast Coast to Puerto Rico. Some 100-120 persons would have made the trip.
News stories say that two Navy men, stationed in Nagua, shot at the boat people when they chose to leave without paying an alleged RD$71,000 "toll" to the Navy personnel. Reportedly, they paid the Navy staff RD$14,000, but refused to pay the additional sum. Luis Liriano and Mary Martinez, parents of deceased 27-year old Diomedes Liriano, blamed the Navy for the death of their son.
Chief of the Navy, Vice Admiral Victor Garcia Alecont announced that over the same weekend five ships with illegal boat trips were arrested. On the boats were several persons that had been deported from the US and were making their way back. The Vice Admiral García promised an investigation of the report of extortion by Navy members. Boat organizers routinely charge a fee for the actual trip, and then extra amounts to pay off Dominican navy personnel and Puerto Rican authorities.

DR to suffer from cut in petroleum production
Secretary of the Presidency, Danilo Medina alerted that the DR will be affected by the 2.7% cut in the world production of petroleum announced by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Prices are expected to go up as a result of the reduction in production of 2,104 million barrels a day. He explained that the government will suffer from the loss in the tax differential charged per gallon of fuel sold locally. The government has used the tax differential to pay the foreign debt. Medina urged the Congress pass the international loans that would enable the government to carry out important repairs of infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Georges.

A brave Dominican woman
49-year old Maria Guerrero Sánchez has said she will not desist in her crusade to jail her recent assailant. On 3 February, returning to her home with her three year old grandson in the Jose Contreras apartment complex in Santo Domingo, she was assaulted by a young man, who kidnapped and raped her abandoning her after taking all her belongings, and her grandson with him. She was rescued by residents in the Pantoja sector where she was abandoned. Her grandson was later found physically unharmed abandoned within the vehicle on the San Cristobal-Santo Domingo highway near the toll booth. At the Police she identified her assailant learning that he had 11 cases against him but had never been taken to court nor sentenced. Guerrero Sánchez has taken her case to the press seeking that the authorities not be lenient this time around, noting negligence on behalf of the Police authorities.

Safety sought for recreational activities at dams
The Ministry of Tourism and the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources (INDRHI) said an agreement to work together to condition the artificial lakes at Dominican dams. The idea is to add recreational use to the electric-generation and irrigation functions of the dams. The Ministry of Tourism foresees their use for fishing, boating, jet skiing and other water sports. Minister Felix Jiménez said that contacts are being made for assistance from the International Olympic Commitee and the French government to set up adequate regulations so that large numbers of visitors can safely enjoy the areas. Recently, four Europeans, three French men and an Italian tourist died at Hatillo Dam when entering a prohibited area.

Thousands of policemen on payrolls of private companies
The new chief of the Police, Major General Pedro de Jesus Candelier Tejada is intent of eliminating the practice of policemen serving as guards, chauffeurs of private companies and individuals. Thousands of policemen didn't turn up to collect their pay checks, preferring their jobs in the private sector to the about RD$1,800 a month Police pay checks.

Sammy Sosa golf tournament for November
The Sammy Sosa Foundation will organize a 12 November benefit golf tournament in the DR. He announced recently that Michael Jordan, of Chicago Bulls fame, has confirmed his participation. Several other renown sports stars have also been invited to the fund-raising event.

Check food vendor IDs
The Ministry of Public Health alerted all to not purchase food products from city vendors that do not port ID authorizing them to sell food on city streets. The ID is being issued by the Environmental Health Department of the Ministry of Public Health after the undergo courses in food handling hygiene, explained Felix Roa, director of Environmental Health of the Ministry of Public Health. The program seeks to reduce the number of contaminated food sold on city streets.

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